The Nederlands Fotomuseum and the Steenbergen Foundation proudly present the twenty-first edition of the Steenbergen Stipendium: the ultimate prize for the best photographic graduation project created by a student of one of the Dutch art academies. This summer, the jury for the Steenbergen Stipendium visited the graduation exhibitions in the various Dutch art academies and nominated five photographic projects.
Winner Steenbergen Stipendium 2018
On 17 October, the Steenbergen Stipendium 2018 has today been awarded to Daniël Siegersma (b. Netherlands, 1993) of the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. He will receive an incentive prize of 5,000 Euros from the Steenbergen Foundation. For his graduation project, Anorak, Daniël Siegersma assumed the role of a social anthropologist and went in search of the traditions and customs of his home region of Twente. The Public’s Prize goes to Renée Hilhorst for the project Negerzoenen in Frankrijk. The works of the winners and runners-up will remain on show at the Nederlands Fotomuseum until 13 January 2019.
The jury, consisting of Merel Bem (chairperson; an art critic and writer), Henk Wildschut (photographer) and Teun van der Heijden (photo book designer), voted unanimously to select Daniël Siegersma as winner of the Steenbergen Stipendium 2018. The jury report states that: “His presentation is perfectly balanced; everything is in its place and every component adds to the impact of the others. Siegersma demonstrates that he is a photographer who not only possesses a complete mastery of the medium, but understands current developments in photography. A film, an attribute, a book – he has incorporated all these in his presentation without ever surrendering command or losing control of his installation. Far from detracting from his photographs, the additional components support them and in every case contribute to the essence of the story he wants to tell.”
Here is a brief explanation given by the jury for each of the works submitted by the following nominees.
Eliza Bordeaux is one of the almost two million Dutch people with roots in the former Dutch East Indies. But what does this mean? In search of her past, she went to various Kumpulans: nostalgic get-togethers where people like herself dance and reminisce about the old days. It might seem like going to a Kumpulan would be a great night out, but Bordeaux’s photographic installation suggests otherwise: the confetti is as grey as a thundercloud, and a plastic pot palm meant as part of the decor looks rather pathetic instead.
Bordeaux wonders if there’s really that much to celebrate. Why is so much attention devoted to important events in Indonesia’s colonial past while almost nobody stops to consider the impact - the move to the ‘motherland’ (the Netherlands) and the ‘smooth-as-silk process of integration’ - this colonial past had on people? Bordeaux’s open, light-hearted approach blames no one, but she is evidently surprised at both the ignorance among Dutch people about their history as a colonial power on these islands and the ability of her father’s generation to ignore this pain and sadness.
Theresa Büchner (1993, Germany), Demolding a Daughter, http://theresabuechner.de
Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam
Theresa Büchner’s film is about a mother and daughter and how what would seem a natural relationship can also be one of the most complicated. Demolding a Daughter tells a succinct yet refined story of a woman who wanted to devote her life to the art of sculpture and how this was interrupted when she gave birth to a daughter. Was there a sacrifice involved? Would she rather have dedicated her life to art?
Büchner uses precise, slowly shot images taken in a semi-dark room: an intimate setting yet charged with exactly the kind of tension typical of certain mother-daughter relationships. Nothing is what it seems in this film. The viewer is left with unanswered questions. What actually happened here? How well do you really know those you’re closest to? And who can say that your perception of someone else is accurate?
Renée Hilhorst (1995, The Netherlands), Negerzoenen in Frankrijk, www.reneehilhorst.com
HKU University of the Arts, Utrecht
Negerzoenen in Frankrijk is a fond and honest family portrait made by someone who looks at people around her with a sense of surprise and mild irritation. Hilhorst filmed her family members in and around the house in the middle of France where her grandparents had emigrated to years before. Fragments taken from both old family videos and current material show a happy family with seemingly nothing amiss. At the same time, these images gradually reveal a story about everyday racism and how deeply ingrained it can be.
Hilhorst asks critical questions, interviews her family members about ‘foreigners’, and portrays them gently and respectfully but also without pulling any punches. By neither avoiding the subject nor wanting to drive it home, the message comes across even stronger so that the viewer, too, can’t help but ask, ‘Oh, that sounds like something my own grandmother might say. How would I react?’
Daniël Siegersma (1993, The Netherlands), Anorak, http://danielsiegersma.com
Royal Academy of Art, The Hague
To create Anorak, Daniël Siegersma took on the role of a committed anthropologist in search of the traditions and customs of the region in the Netherlands where he was raised: Twente. Even though he grew up there, he was still unfamiliar with these traditions; as a child, he wasn’t one of the boys who set large pyres ablaze every year. He looked on, but from a distance.
With this project, Siegersma has proven himself capable of turning a classical documentary subject into a metaphorical portrayal of major changes in society, of the increasingly greater differences between urban and rural life, and the fading away of local customs. Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine that Siegersma’s photographs were taken in the Netherlands. These Easter bonfires, klootschieten (a local ball-throwing game) and harvest festivals are taking place in the Netherlands, but what does the vast majority of people in this country know about these regional traditions? Fortunately, we can see them through the eyes of Daniël Siegersma.
Nadezhda Titova (Russia, 1983), Ro’dina, www.ntitova.net
Royal Academy of Art, The Hague
Ro’dina shows what happens when the place you come from and the people you love no longer reflect your own political ideals and ideas. When Titova left Russia, she discovered that people in her new surroundings criticised her native country. In particular, this changed the relationship she had with her loving, funny, stubborn and nationalistic mother and resulted in a split identity.
In a short film presented on two screens, Titova contrasts the warm intimacy of home against Russia’s large-scaled mass movements (such as its big military parades) and its somewhat more subtle forms of patriotism like the TV channel that plays nationalistic music all day long. Meanwhile, the voice-over recites an enchanting poem. In addition to the film, Titova also made a photobook that expresses the same intimacy and sense of doubt.